Groups want 180-day 'long-term care leave' for workers
Taipei, May 16 (CNA) Civic groups launched a signature campaign Thursday to urge the government to provide employees with up to 180 days of "long-term care leave," so they have more time to look after elderly relatives without having to quit work.
The campaign, launched by the Awakening Foundation (AF), Taiwan Association of Family Caregivers (TAFC) and the Confederation of Taipei Trade Unions at Taipei NGO House, is supported by more than 80 NGOs and labor groups.
Groups participating in the campaign are demanding long-term care leave made up of 30-days of paid leave and 150-days of unpaid flexible leave, Awakening Foundation Director Chuang Chiao-ju (莊喬汝) said at the campaign launch press conference.
The purpose of the leave is to give employees more time to take care of senior family members when necessary, Chuang said, adding that at present many people have to quit work to take care of elderly relatives which reduces the labor force.
According to the petition, workers should not be denied such leave when they present a doctor's certificate as proof that a direct family member, spouse, brother or sister requires long-term care.
The petition also said employees should receive 60 percent of their monthly salaries for the first 30 days of leave, which is usually the busiest time for caretakers. They can then claim 150 days of flexible unpaid leave.
Currently, there are about 790,000 dementia patients and disabled persons in Taiwan. Their caretakers, mostly middle-aged family members, spend an average of more than 20 hours per week looking after them for an average of eight years, according to the TAFC.
TAFC Secretary-general Jenny Chen (陳景寧) described the circumstance where an individual has to stop working to take care of a relative as a "triple-lose" situation, in which they lose their salary, the employer loses experienced staff and the country suffers economically.
Officials said early May that the Ministry of Labor (MOL) will hold talks on long-term care with labor groups, employers and specialists in the field before the end of June.
Workers are entitled to personal leave, family care leave and annual special leave in accordance with current laws, the MOL noted, stressing that further study on long-term care leave is needed, with particular focus on whether the government has the budget to support the policy.
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